Diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, is a growing health problem. People with diabetes require intensive treatments to reduce their risk of developing complications such as stroke, heart disease, and hypertension.
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents with diabetes do not receive the level of specialized care needed to prevent fatal complications. A recent preventable death in a California nursing home illustrates this problem of nursing home negligence.
Resident Died From Too Much Insulin
In a lawsuit against a nursing facility in San Luis Obispo, a man claims that his diabetic mother was given too much insulin by care staff, resulting in her death.
Kathleen Hutchinson became a resident of the Bella Vista Transitional Care Center at the age of 85. She suffered from several illnesses, including dementia and diabetes. Under her doctor’s orders, caregivers at the facility were supposed to test her blood sugar daily and administer insulin as required.
On the day of her death, Hutchinson’s blood sugar reading was dangerously high. Her doctor ordered care staff to administer 10 units of insulin and take another blood sugar reading in an hour. However, the staff followed Hutchinson’s usual medication schedule on top of the doctor-ordered doses.
Information was lost in a communication error during a shift change at the facility. The night staff who administered Hutchinson’s insulin failed to inform the morning crew of her condition.
Over the next four hours, Hutchinson was given four large doses of insulin. She was found dead shortly after. Her blood sugar was so low that it could not produce a reading.
Hutchinson’s son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility. The lawsuit claims that understaffing and administrative turnover at the care center resulted in the fatal medical errors that caused Hutchinson’s death.
Nursing Home Faces Over One Hundred Other Complaints
The California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) investigated Hutchinson’s case. They concluded that Bella Vista failed to follow care plans and treatment orders properly.
Bella Vista denies the claims that negligence resulted in Hutchinson’s death. The facility’s operations manager stated that Bella Vista follows specific protocols for administering medication to avoid problems like these. He also claimed that Bella Vista’s staffing meets the needs of its residents.
However, Hutchinson’s death is not an isolated incident. The CHHS has received 107 complaints against Bella Vista in the past three years. These include complaints about understaffing, safety concerns, and poor patient treatment.
The CHHS previously cited Bella Vista for failure to meet standard staffing requirements and failure to provide showers, among other issues.
Despite these problems, Bella Vista’s Medicare rating remains above average in all categories. It’s important to understand that these ratings don’t always reflect the true quality of care provided in nursing homes.
Diabetic Residents Require Specialized Care
Nursing home residents with diabetes have special care needs. If these needs are not met, diabetes can result in severe or fatal health complications.
Diabetic patients require daily blood testing, medication, and insulin injections to monitor and control blood sugar levels. Treatment also involves controlling blood pressure and lipid levels to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, end-stage renal failure, and other diabetes-related complications.
Diabetes is far from a rare condition. More than 25% of people over 65 have diabetes, so all nursing homes should be well-equipped to handle patients with these special care needs.
By addressing and treating diabetes properly, nursing homes can prevent other health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney damage.
Wrongful Death Suits in Diabetic Care Cases
Diabetic residents face a higher risk of serious health complications and death without proper nursing home care. Since diabetic patients require such intensive, specialized care, simple medical errors can result in wrongful death.
When care facilities or staff fail to provide proper care to residents, it is known as nursing home neglect.
Families of loved ones who have died from negligence or medical errors, like insulin overmedication, have certain legal rights. You may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit against the nursing home for their negligence.
Contact Nursing Home Abuse Justice if you have any concerns about a case involving your loved one.
Current Burden of Diabetes in the U.S. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/communication-programs/ndep/health-professionals/practice-transformation-physicians-health-care-teams/why-transform/current-burden-diabetes-us
Goare, A. (2019, April 26). San Luis Obispo senior living center sued for negligence after resident death. Retrieved from https://ksby.com/news/local-news/2019/04/25/san-luis-obispo-senior-living-center-sued-for-negligence-after-resident-death
Holden, L. (n.d.). A SLO nursing home patient died from low blood sugar. Family says she was over-medicated. Retrieved from https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/health-and-medicine/article229743379.html
Medicare Nursing Home Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/profile.html#profTab=0&ID=056189&Distn=9896.7 &state=CA&lat=0&lng=0&name=BellaVista
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, July 18). New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html